406-203-5148 Over $8,000,000 in verdicts and settlements in past 3 years. More than 60 years of combined experience.
Areas & Topics

Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Tips for avoiding motor vehicle accidents

Long holiday weekends can be particularly dangerous for drivers since more cars are on the road, but bad weather and other factors can also contribute to accidents. There are things drivers can do to make the roads safer for themselves and others.

First, people should be aware of and obey traffic laws. Speeding and other violations are among the top causes of motor vehicle accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2013, driving under the influence was a factor in almost one-third of deadly car crashes. Drivers who would never consider drinking and driving might still get behind the wheel when they are tired, but this can be dangerous as well. People should remain alert while driving.

Even fender benders can cause serious crash injuries

If you are one of the many vehicle operators in Missoula and across Montana, you and your loved ones might be at considerable risk of suffering crash injuries. Even minor accidents can cause injuries of varying severity, depending on different factors. These include the speed of the colliding vehicles, the position of the passengers, the place of impact and whether occupants wore their seat belts.

If you or a loved one are involved in a wreck, it may not be concerning if there is no blood gushing from open wounds. However, not all injuries are immediately apparent, and a medical evaluation is essential because, the sooner a doctor can diagnose the injuries, the better the chances of full recovery.

Wrong-site surgery still common

According to estimates, there are between 40 and 60 wrong-site surgeries every week nationwide. These mistakes can cause severe damages that may affect Montana patients for a lifetime. Taking a time out is the practice of medical personnel to have a meeting prior to surgery. This procedure allows for doctors and medical staff to review the case and voice any concerns they have.

According to an associate director working with the Center for Transforming Healthcare, the time out is the last safeguard before surgery. It is the last chance for medical staff to avoid permanently injuring a patient due to wrong-site surgery. The worst thing that can happen, according to the associate director, is for the time out process to become rote.

Social media a major source of distracted driving

Root Insurance has shared the results of an online study conducted by Wakefield Research, and they may be surprising to some drivers in Montana. Of the nearly 2,000 drivers who responded to the survey, about half claimed that distracted driving is their top concern when on the road, yet the respondents were found to use their phones for an average of 13 minutes every day behind the wheel.

Even more inconsistent is the fact that 99 percent of respondents acknowledged phone use as one of the top three distractions that are possible while driving. Drivers were, on the whole, more ready to criticize others for the same behaviors they exhibit. So 89 percent said they would give a bad rating to an Uber or Lyft driver for texting and driving, and 90 percent called themselves better drivers than these ride-hailing drivers.

Much more testing needed before autonomous vehicles prove safety

Autonomous vehicle technology excites some people in Montana who hope to eliminate accidents caused by human error. Despite the theoretical benefits of the technology, developers of self-driving vehicles continue to face hurdles in regard to safety. A report from the Rand Corporation criticized technology companies for making promises about safety before completing extensive testing. To prove the technology's safety, developers need to drive the vehicles millions and perhaps billions of miles before making statistical claims about accident rates.

Waymo, an autonomous vehicle developer, has completed 7 billion miles of tests in simulators on virtual roads. The Rand report, however, cautioned that physical test drives alone could predict safety in real-world driving conditions.

Colon cancer frequently misdiagnosed in young patients

The American Association for Cancer Research has presented the results of a study showing that colorectal cancer is being frequently misdiagnosed among young adult patients. Montana residents should know that the symptoms of colorectal cancer include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, blood in stool, fatigue and inexplicable weight loss.

Because these symptoms can be mistaken for those of other conditions, and because young patients tend to be healthy, it is understandable that most physicians will not immediately think cancer is behind it all. Patients themselves, unaware that these are the symptoms of colon cancer, may wait until late in life to be screened for it.

Study finds that fibromyalgia is frequently misdiagnosed

Fibromyalgia sufferers in Montana typically experience widespread pain, fatigue and other symptoms that may affect quality of life. The chronic rheumatic condition is also difficult for doctors to properly diagnose. This is why it's a condition frequently misdiagnosed -- at least that's the conclusion from a study that compared clinician diagnoses and published criteria.

Misclassification of the disease has the potential to result in medical malpractice litigation; although, this study on the diagnosis of fibromyalgia didn't specifically address that issue. More importantly, a misdiagnosis could result in unnecessary treatments that are harmful or a delay in receiving the proper treatment. For the study, nearly 500 patients filled out a questionnaire and received an evaluation by rheumatology staff. It was discovered that nearly 25 percent of patients met the standards for being diagnosed with fibromyalgia based on American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria.

What Montana drivers should do after a car wreck

There are several important steps to take after a car accident in Montana. If handled correctly, a driver can make it easier for legal liability to be determined and have less trouble filing a car insurance claim. The first step is to remain calm as this can help a motorist remember vital details after the fact. If anyone requires immediate medical care, call 911.

After all emergencies have been attended to, drivers might consider moving the vehicles out of the way of danger. If no danger is present, though, it is best to leave the crash scene as is. The next step is to physically document the crash. The easiest way to do this is by taking pictures of vehicle damage, visible injuries, skid marks and any damaged trees or property.

Protection against drunk drivers

Montana drivers who are concerned about road safety, particularly when it comes to drunk drivers, can take certain steps to protect themselves. Defensive driving is a form of driving that can help people save their own lives when they are sharing the road with drunk drivers.

It is important to first be able to recognize the signs that another driver on the road may be drunk. Typical driving signs may include making turns that are too wide, driving in the center of the road and narrowly miss hitting another vehicle. Drunk drivers may also be driving too slowly, braking erratically, making sudden or illegal turns, turning or swerving abruptly, driving on the wrong side of the road or reacting too slowly traffic signals.

Was the driver who hit you distracted at the wheel?

If you're in the baby boomer generation or older, you may recall taking leisurely Sunday drives with your family as a child. Nowadays, this form of free time activity is not as common, quite possibly because Montana roadways are a lot more dangerous now than they were then. Why? One reason is simply that there are many more cars on the road at any given time than there used to be. Posted speed limits are often higher, as well.

One of the leading factors of increased highway danger, however, is that of distracted driving. You may adhere to all traffic regulations and practice good driving habits that help keep yourself and your passengers safe, but if there's a distracted driver nearby, you and anyone else in the vicinity are at great risk for injury. It's important to be able to recognize signs of distracted driving and also to know where to seek support if a collision occurs.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
Missoula Law Office Map

Footer image

Montana Trial Lawyers Association Just For All